Toronto's existing City Hall was designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, the winner of an international design competition held in 1959 for a new City Hall and City Square. In the 40 years since its completion, the City Hall building has become an enduring symbol of Toronto and a modernist icon. The surrounding City Square was executed after Revell's death and while true to the architect's vision in its spatial arrangement, it lacks the considered materiality and detailing found in the architecture of the building.
Today, Nathan Phillips Square creates a dramatic and expansive forecourt to Revell's sculptural volumes and acts as Toronto's primary public space. Located in the heart of the city, it hosts a broad range of programmed and spontaneous uses. The key existing components include a large, hard-surface open space with planted lawns at the perimeter, a snack and skate rental concession, an outdoor skating rink, an elevated walkway that frames the square on three sides, and an incongruous peace garden added in the late 1980s. Increasing programmatic pressures on the square combined with 40 years of wear and tear prompted the City of Toronto to host a two-stage, international design competition for the revitalization of the Square--the winner of which is presented here.